A 'Pear' of Perfect Thanksgiving Desserts
By Deborah Salomon
Of course you'll have pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. But that other autumn "p" - pears - makes several gorgeous holiday alternatives.
A two-crust pie can't match the wow of showing up at the Thanksgiving feast with a French pear tart, which is actually easier to assemble (processor blending, no rolling) than from-scratch apple pie. Pear halves poached in wine or cranberry juice and topped with mascarpone offer a light, elegant alternative to rich finales.
At the very least, a pottery bowl of red and yellow Bartletts, green Comice and brown Bosc pears makes a stunning Thanksgiving table centerpiece.
French Pear Tart
1 ? cups all-purpose flour
? teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
10 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into small cubes and frozen
1 egg yolk
Scant 3 tablespoons ice water or apple cider
? teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Place flour, salt and sugar in processor bowl; pulse to combine. Strew cubes of frozen butter over flour. Pulse just until incorporated (tiny butter specks remain). Add egg yolk through feed tube and pulse 2 or 3 times. Mix vanilla and water. Scatter liquid, a tablespoon at a time, over dough and pulse once or twice after each addition. Dough should barely clump, not form a ball. With floured fingers, press dough across bottom and up sides of 8-9 inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom. Refrigerate.
Choose three large unblemished Bartlett pears that are firm-ripe but not mushy. Peeling is optional. Remove stem, cut pears in half lengthwise. Scoop out core with melon baller. Cut out woody spine. Cut two pears into thin lengthwise slices and one pear into thin crosswise slices. Arrange overlapping pear slices in concentric circles on dough with larger lengthwise slices around outer rim and smaller crosswise slices toward the inside. Slices should resemble flower petals. Bake at 360 degrees about 45 minutes, until pears are very tender and crust rim brown. Melt several tablespoons of apple jelly (splash of dry sherry or brandy optional) with a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg. With pastry brush, brush a thick layer of melted jelly over fruit. Run tart under preheated broiler until jelly bubbles and pear edges brown. Protect rim with foil, if necessary. Watch carefully to prevent burning. Cool tart before removing rim.
Blushing Poached Pears
Select ripe-but-firm Bartlett or Bosc pears. Peel, halve lengthwise, remove core with melon baller. In a large skillet, heat to a simmer enough cranberry juice, pomegranate juice or port wine to barely cover pears. Slide pears into skillet, cut side down. Cover and simmer until tender but not mushy, about 10 minutes, spooning liquid over pears as they cook. Carefully remove fruit from skillet into a shallow bowl, cut side up. Raise heat; reduce liquid by half, adding a tablespoon of sugar, if desired. Pour reduced liquid over pears. Cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight. Bring pears to room temperature before serving. Fill pear cavity with mascarpone, chevre, Brie or other soft-ripe cheese. Serve with ladyfingers or a shortbread cookie.
Contact Deborah Salomon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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